Feds Bust German Smuggling Tarantulas Into LA

Allegedly mailed over 500 live tarantulas

UPDATE: The bond hearing is put off until Wednesday. Preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 17th and arraignment set for Dec. 20th.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man accused of smuggling hundreds of tarantulas into the U.S. is under arrest after federal agents spun a web of deceit to catch him.

KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports

The U.S. attorney’s office says 37-year-old Sven Koppler of Wachtberg, Germany was arrested Thursday afternoon after arriving in Los Angeles.

If convicted of wildlife smuggling, he could face up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

He remains jailed Friday.

tarantulaboxedlarge Feds Bust German Smuggling Tarantulas Into LA

U.S. officials today released this photo as evidence showing some of the seized arachnids, which apparently were packed into straw-like tubes. (courtesy U.S. Dept. of Justice)

A criminal complaint says Koppler mailed more than 500 live tarantulas from Germany to Los Angeles. Fish and Wildlife Service agents intercepted the packages and then allegedly posed as customers and ordered dozens more spiders, including a protected Mexican species.

Prosecutors claim that Koppler made $300,000 by selling spiders to people in dozens of countries.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • don

    Well there goes MY Christmas presents I was getting for my ex-wife.

  • c

    wow, I live in the LA area, caught a wild tarantula & now keep it as a pet. I would’ve never guessed there would be such a market for spiders. or that it is such a big deal to “smuggle” them in. I guess we don’t want none native’s taking over our ecosystem, lol.

  • bcb

    The guy needs to find a real job. WHAT AN IDIOT!!

    • PETER

      Your the idiot.. you never heard of sales before you know supplly and demand.

  • ChickenPlucker

    Next thing you know, I’ll try to sell an organic egg from my “free backyard” chickens, and wind scratching dirt in a prison yard! Sheesh! Can we all say, “Big Government?”

    • ChickenPlucker

      You see, the eggs are also fertile, and therefore viable genetic material that could be raised as a chick and then a chicken (didn’t you get a kindergarten education? :-D in some foreign land (recently invaded by US troupes.) That strikes concern and a demand for yet bigger government somewhere deep in the heart of the FDA officials i.e. CEO’s from biotech firms that should, by rights, have to sign major conflict of interest forms…. But, I digress. ;-)

  • ChickenPlucker

    “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty” -Thomas Jefferson

    “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.” – Patrick Henry

  • ss

    If people want tarantulas as pets, go to Oklahoma, they are all over the place, you see them running across roads etc.

    • Fabian

      I’m never going to go to Oklahoma.

    • bigswinginrich

      Why go there ? Just go to the friggin pet store.

  • Krissy

    Wachtberg Germany. hmm….My ancestors last name was Wacht and they came from Germany. But anyways, why would they bring in tarantulas here to the US? We have plenty of them!

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